By Susan Froyd
By Byron Graham
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davies
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Bree Davies
By Susan Froyd
By Kate Gibbons
Dixie's Tupperware Party. Dixie is a booze- and sex-addicted, trash-talking, child-neglecting ex-con from Alabama who holds Tupperware parties in her trailer, and she's invited you to this one.
Dixie's Tupperware Partyat the Galleria really
isa Tupperware party — you get a name tag and raffle number when you come in, and there are pens and catalogues on all the tables. Dixie, your hostess, greets you in high white heels and a crotch-skimming skirt, earrings swinging, red hair piled high. Collapsible bowls, punch and party setups, plastic jugs and ribbed mugs (uh-huh) gleam in shades of lime, blue, orange and purple on a table behind her; by the time she's through, you won't be able to look at a plastic storage container without giggling. Just the words "collapsible bowl" will set you off. Dixie is also Kris Andersson, an actor who realized he could make an actual living selling Tupperware and began hosting parties. As he worked, the character of Dixie developed. Andersson brought his show to New York's Fringe Festival in 2004, and it caught fire from there. This production is seriously dirty, and it's also one terrific evening. Dixie is a great character: She doesn't give an inch, but she's as appealing as she is wicked. And Andersson not only loves Dixie, but he loves Tupperware, too — and he's not being snarky about it. So no matter how much Dixie screws up her spiel or how many lewd jokes she makes about the uses to which you can put "the best plastic crap on the planet," there's a reverential quality to the way she fondles the goods that makes you actually want to buy them. Presented by Denver Center Attractions through December 30, Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 303-893-4100, www.denvercenter.org.
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. The opening moments are pulse-poundingly exciting — music, live wrestling, flashing lights, tons of adrenaline from an already hyped-up audience. But the actual scripted beginning of the play is quiet, as a Puerto Rican kid called Mace describes his lifelong fascination with pro wrestling in an extended and appealing monologue. Now Mace is immersed in the world he so admired as a kid: He's a literal fall guy, the fighter employed to lose to the federation's star, Chad Deity — who, in fact, can't fight a lick. Then Deity swaggers down the aisle while rock music roars, tossing out hundred-dollar bills bearing his likeness, a huge gold belt accentuating his magnificently muscled torso, and the adrenaline surges again. Through the entire evening, the play's mix of emotional intensity and over-the-top theatricality grabs us in a headlock and won't let go. Mace meets a hyper-charged young Indian from Brooklyn named Vigneshwar Paduar, or VP, who's fluent in the tough-guy speak of several city neighborhoods and also a handful of foreign languages, and introduces him to league owner EKO, who soon figures out a way to make use of what he sees as the Indian's indeterminate nationality in the ring. He'll be from one of those Middle Eastern countries like Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, or — hey! — Israel. They'll dub him the Fundamentalist, and he'll fight a wholesome all-American boy. Mace, wearing an idiotic sombrero and dubbed Che-Chavez-Castro, will serve as villainous sidekick. None of this is subtle — but nor is professional wrestling's shameless dealing in prejudice and stereotype. The wonder is that so many Americans outside the wrestling scene accept these cartoonish and xenophobic ideas. The script is absorbing, funny, wicked smart. Though playwright Kristoffer Diaz's parody of the wrestling world is broad, his characters are shaded and individualized. The real brilliance of Chad Deity, however, goes beyond the script, and lies in the play's pure theatricality, the way Diaz uses the grimy, over-the-top antics of professional wrestling to tell a story with brain and heart. A joint production of Curious Theater Company and Theatreworks, at Dusty Loo Bo Vivant Theater at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs through November 11; for information, go to www.theatreworkscs.org or call 719-255-3232. Reviewed September 13.
Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-ass Wit of Molly Ivins. Molly Ivins was a familiar figure in Colorado. For a while, she was the Rocky Mountain bureau chief for the New York Times. Later, she was a regular at the University of Colorado's Conference on World Affairs, where she could be found year after year laughing and holding forth between sessions with a group of acolytes. Ivins died of breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 62, and arguably a certain style of journalism — and a certain mystique — died with her. Among other things, Ivins helped break the gender barrier in journalism, and she did it as a dame, a broad, a liberal in a deep red state, a fiery populist. She loved skewering members of the Texas legislature, and they — as she freely admitted — gave her an awful lot to work with. It was Ivins who dubbed George W. Bush "Shrub," and who, having watched his performance as governor, warned the nation loudly and frequently not to make him its president. After Ivins's death, twin sisters Margaret and Allison Engel decided to immortalize her life and words for the stage. Red Hot Patriot begins with Ivins at her desk, attempting to write a column about her father — a man as stubborn and tough as herself, but with politics diametrically opposed to her own. This leads her to reminisce about her life and work. The playwrights quote freely from her writing, and we get nuggets of her wit throughout. The ending is a touch sentimental, the exhortation from one of her columns to take to the streets against the Vietnam War a little predictable, but these elements are earned, and the evening would be poorer without them. Presented by the LIDA Project through November 10 at the Aurora Fox Studio, 9900 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora, 303-739-1970, www.aurorafoxartscenter.org. Reviewed November 1.
Sweet Tooth. The opening scene is mesmerizing: a bare stage, a woman in a fur coat standing in front of a white sheet and singing "It's cold." A hand appears from behind the sheet offering a glass, sprinkling water on the woman, and then the sheet is removed to reveal a rose-colored living room filled with various strange portraits of this same woman. We discover she isn't really cold. She's George, a wealthy eccentric who has retreated from the world to create a hermetically enclosed, aesthetically perfect little universe for herself, one in which artifice is elevated above nature and a simulated event is superior to the event itself. With the help of two devoted followers, Hortense the maid and the artist George calls Mister, she invents fake interludes to appreciate. Pastry being about as artificial as cooking gets, the three eat a lot of desserts, and the result is predictable. George gets a toothache, and she has to deal with a very real, pressing and painful reality. A dentist is called in — a practical, low-key guy called Dr. Manette. Will he break through the enameled craziness with his forceps and angled mirror, or move deeper and deeper into the rosy-tinted trap, following a trail of poisoned sweets? There's a lot of wit and ingenuity here, and also guts: When the Buntport actors come up with an original concept, they tend to ride it through to the bitter end, not shying away from the craziest implications, exploring every possible crevice — which makes Sweet Tooth as intellectually stimulating as it is lively and funny. The production is a collaboration with musician Adam Stone, and he provides a series of strange, passionate and funny songs on such topics as abscessed teeth and Pear William cake. Presented by Buntport Theater through November 17, 717 Lipan Street, 720-946-1388, www.buntport.com. Reviewed November 1.
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